Should you buy this mask?

This is called an Agbogho mmuuo from the Ashanti people of  Ghana, West Africa. Sometimes the sellers of these round carvings will tell you more about their derivation, which goes like this…  “Translating into the Queen of women, this mask represents a wealthy woman of high status.  She personifies strength, beauty, and pride.  It is typically worn during performances at funerals and other ceremonies.  Seeking to illustrate maiden spirits, men dress up in these masks and parade as adolescent girls to exaggerate their features.  Shows including the mimickers are also joined by musicians who chat ‘Mmanwu si n’igwe’ – meaning the masked spirit from the sky and ‘Udemu na lenu’ – meaning my fame is potent.”

It’s a good story and might have some truth in it. Tons of these masks have been sold to tourist and beginning collectors for many years, but they were never worn for dance or any other cultural reasons. Because of that, I would not buy one for my collection. However, you could look at this one and feel much differently. It is very handsome and looks like African traditional art. Just be sure you don’t pay a lot of money for it.

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